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This Earth Day the Western Cape is facing not one, but two, significant challenges. The first is that the City of Cape Town is running out of water and the second is a potential waste crisis as landfills rapidly reach maximum capacity.

One of the factors contributing to this state is opposition towards new initiatives like regional waste disposal sites and waste-to-energy plants and another is the fact that, with the increase in consumption of bottled water in Cape Town, the volume of bottles needing to be recycled is threatening to overwhelm local recycling capacity.

This is something the South African National Bottled Water Association (SANBWA) members are working to address.

Diverting waste from landfill

According to SANBWA Executive Director, Charlotte Metcalf, joint efforts driven by PETCO and supported by its members and associate members – including bottled water producers – aim to prevent these additional bottles having to be sent to landfill.

They are achieving this by transporting baled bottles to a recycling facility with excess capacity in Gauteng for processing.

“Working together with PETCO, SANBWA has sponsored another truckload and so, too, has Woolworths, which saw bottled water sales soar during February and March this year,” she said.

Consumers can help

“I spend a considerable part of my day seeking additional sponsors so we can relieve the pressure being out on recycling facilities in the Western Cape. But consumers can help, too, by following a few simple guidelines laid out by PETCO (see below).

“This Mother Earth Day, SANBWA urges Capetonians to look at both their water usage and their waste processing in a new light, and to make the change that a sustainable future in this beautiful part of the world requires.

“It also challenges bottled water bottlers and retailers to follow Woolworths’ example to sponsor transport of baled bottles to recycling facilities in other parts of the country.”

Worth from waste

South Africa currently recycles more than 55% of its PET, one of the highest rates worldwide. Extrupet has a fibre producing plant in Milnerton in Cape Town and a Bottle-2-Bottle plant in Wadeville, Johannesburg, where recycled PET plastic bottles are used to manufacture new bottles for many food-grade applications or recycled into a myriad of new and useful products such as polyester fibre for duvets and pillows, jeans and t-shirts, and reusable shopping bags.

This process has made South Africa a self-sufficient manufacturer of polyester fibre, no longer reliant on imports.

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